Happy New Year from the Arboretum! Join us in celebrating some of our successes from 2022. None of this would be possible without you – we’re so thankful for your continued support of our mission to cultivate connections between people, plants and places!

This year we were thrilled to welcome over 16,500 members into our gardens and trails. Membership is essential to our mission – with total membership gifts raising over one million dollars – these gifts make a huge impact in helping us preserve our collections, bring improvements to our trails and gardens, support valuable education programs and so much more! Thank you to all our members for everything they do!

We worked hard!

Our volunteer department expanded new horizons with our docent programs this year by offering live bonsai free demonstrations. We had 300 volunteers, who completed over one million volunteer hours

This year has also brought about change with our new ticketing and membership system and we look forward to sharing new insights and features with you. We hope you are enjoying the online platform, having access to your upcoming events and easy access to your continuing education digital content.

We raised over $100,000 from fewer than 20 generous, individual donors in support of installing new trail signage

And played hard too…

In addition to supporting our mission, members had an exciting year of events at the Arboretum: Spring and Fall Plant Sales with over 20 local businesses, 2 outdoor movie nights on the Plants of Promise garden lawn, a Victorian-themed Garden Party celebration for Frederick Law Olmsted’s birthday, 2022: Space Pawdessey Halloween Dog Parade, Members Night at Winter Lights, and opening artistic exhibit receptions. We can’t wait to plan next year’s events for you!

We had over 40 musicians perform at the Arboretum this year, between Arbor Evenings, Winter Lights and other events. Of those, only one was from out of state. We love supporting our local music community!

This was a big year for love at the Arboretum! We hosted weddings and elopements for 40 happy couples.


Our Mission Orchestration Team was busy behind the scenes!

This team is formally chartered to extend the Arboretum’s mission in the areas of Exhibits, Art, Interpretation and Collections.

In 2021 two major accomplishments of the team were the creation of the exhibit “Thanks FLO – Celebrating the Legacy of Frederick Law Olmsted”, and the installation of property wide wayfinding trails signage. Each of these projects were years in the making and to see them both come to fruition in 2022 is so rewarding.

Thanks FLO, Celebrating the Life and Legacy of Frederick Law Olmsted was created as an exhibit introducing viewers to the life and work of one of America’s greatest planners and pioneer of the field of landscape architecture. His legacy lives today in our collective enjoyment of outdoor green spaces, national parks and parklands. The exhibit was created in conjunction with the National Association for Olmsted Parks (NAOP) and celebrated Olmsted’s 200th birthday on April 26, 2022.

Guests at The North Carolina Arboretum discovered outdoor exhibits illustrating the four principles used by FLO in his work designing and building parks, greenways, campuses and private estates across the United States. Guests captured an image of actual scenes illustrating the social, environmental, aesthetic and economic considerations that combine in planning a well-designed functional and enjoyable landscape. Interpretative panels were presented in Spanish and English.

Indoors at the Baker Visitor Center, guests learned about Olmsted’s life through an intricate timeline; saw a selection of his most iconic designs including his first design, Central Park in New York City and his last, Biltmore Estate; built a park using an exhibit interactives while learning about Olmsted’s work across America; and took selfie mementos using green screen technology featuring one of several historic postcard park settings. A film in the exhibit hall gallery, “”Olmsted and America’s Public Parks” was shown with permission by the NAOP.

Wayfinding Trails Signage

Planned as a re-design for its extensive trails system encompassing a 10-mile network of trails, roads and gardens, the new wayfinding signs provide Arboretum visitors with easy-to-identify directional signs including “You Are Here” maps to assist them with navigation and orientation.

Our overarching objective is to have easy-to-read trails wayfinding signs installed at all necessary locations to ensure that members and visitors have the information necessary to safely and properly enjoy themselves while on-site. The signs are the culmination of a two-year process of analysis and redesign of the Arboretum property map and guide that was unveiled in 2020, and the work of a trails team that determined all the pertinent information necessary to create new signs.

With the publication of the new property map, we wanted to implement new wayfinding signage on trails and roadways. Our trail system is a primary draw for our guests and members.

The project was funded by members and donors to The North Carolina Arboretum Society.

And we learned a lot!

Adult Education launched The Curator’s Journal by Bonsai Curator Arthur Joura, a year-long course offering the ultimate insider’s view of bonsai at Arboretum. Journal subscribers sign on for weekly entries from Joura, richly illustrated with his photography, that chronicle growing an art and growing an enterprise over the last three decades. Five new original videos were produced in-house with Education Creative Team staff to highlight the Arboretum’s regionally-influenced collection and the Bonsai Exhibition Garden.

We welcomed new cohorts for our Blue Ridge Naturalist and Blue Ridge EcoGardening Certificate of Merit programs and initiated a micro certificate program for Green Industry professionals.  

Our team of dedicated staff and instructors offered more than 200 classes online, onsite and in the field. We covered subjects such as Natural History, Ecology and Appalachian Culture; Horticulture & Landscape Design; Contemplative Arts and Wellness. 

We designed special programming for higher education, professional associations, corporate and community groups, including Loving Where You Live conservation-focused walks, Forest Bathing experiences, and practice focused on personal growth, professional development and continuing education. 

And we were honored to highlight the creative work of North Carolina authors and artists in collaboration with UNC Press, our co-affiliate in the University of North Carolina System. 

Meanwhile, Youth Education focused on community outreach:

Our youth educators expanded Project PEACE (Promoting Environmental Awareness through Community Engagement) in its second year. The program engages historically and currently underserved communities in environmental education programming to encourage inquiry-based exploration in a welcoming environment. By partnering with local communities and organizations, Project PEACE hopes to deliver sustainable, long term programming. 

On July 23rd, ecoEXPLORE educators with The North Carolina Arboretum partnered with Latinos Aventureros to lead their first bilingual family program in Flat Rock, North Carolina. Together this diverse group of 16 explorers learned about insects, searched for critters, and completed a scavenger hunt all while embracing the group’s mission of breaking-down cultural barriers and helping all people experience connection with nature.

Project EXPLORE celebrated its 10th year! Project EXPLORE is a program for teachers that focuses on getting teachers and students outdoors at their schools, using nature as the classroom. In 2022, they served 139 teachers, 6396 students at 75 schools in 28 North Carolina counties!

Project EXPLORE’s overall effectiveness is evidenced in the feedback we get from teachers. Some of the teachers shared that Project EXPLORE is “a beautiful way to get them (students) back into education and to get them excited about school again,” and “I definitely have kids seem more connected to me because we go outside.” That teacher continues, “They talk to me more and connect with me to share ‘oh guess all the birds that I saw at my house this weekend.’ I think that connection to us and nature is pretty valuable.”

And had lots of fun at camp:

We welcomed 395 campers this summer! They rode bikes, explored creeks and had lots of fun learning about nature! Twenty-four “campership” scholarships were offered, providing opportunities for more kids to experience nature.

ecoEXPLORE held two very successful Season Summits:

On February 26th, ecoEXPLORE partnered with professional Ornithologists Andrew Laughlin and Anthony Squitieri to lead an engaging hybrid science program with an amazing reach! First, through virtual broadcasts, scientists demonstrated mist-netting, bird banding, and featured close-up bird encounters for live participants across the state. Then, we turned the cameras off and welcomed 40+ kids and parents to join in-person science demonstrations and experience holding and releasing birds with their very own hands!

At the Botany Season Summit on April 23rd, ecoEXPLORE families got their hands dirty planting over a hundred native wildflowers, grasses, and shrubs. This celebration helped more than 30 kids and parents to literally put down roots at The North Carolina Arboretum, and have a lasting impact on our landscape that will support our local birds and bugs alike for years to come!

AND they made very important scientific discoveries:

ecoEXPLORERS have been busy making new discoveries throughout all of 2022! But in August, we learned several intrepid participants spotted insects where scientists had never seen them before. New observations of the Azure Bluet Damselfly (by ecoEXPLORERs Aquaman & Pingexplorer) and Regal Darner Dragonfly (by ecoEXPLOERER Birdfeathers) were the first recorded sightings of these species in two different North Carolina counties–expanded our understanding of these rare and enchanting insects!

We look forward to sharing another exciting year with you and thank you for everything you do!